Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cause and Effect

I believe that I live in an age where superstitious practices, old wives' tales, and unfounded traditional admonitions have no place. This, I suspect, is why I constantly seek a logical foundation behind everything -- why I figure that anything worth doing has to have some sort of reasoning behind it.

This is not to say that I use this as a hard-and-fast rule, though; I like being spontaneous as much as the next guy. In fact, I wouldn't be engaged in the writing business if I weren't spontaneous to some degree. What I'm saying, however, is that I believe in having some sort of logic behind our rational actions. I'm saying that, if I've got an important something to deal with, then there's got to be a good explanation behind it.

Let's say, for example, that I have a certain bottle of medicine in my hands right now. Let's say that it's not one of those over-the-counter things, that it's one of those drugs with a strange-sounding name and a definite prescription requirement. If a qualified doctor tells me that I have to consume this stuff for a specific illness that I'm suffering, then I'll take the stuff according to his recommended dosage without much argument.

Now, if I were given the same advice by an unqualified doctor (say, a veterinarian who specializes in horses), then I'd hesitate. If I were given the same advice by a relative or a friend in a non-medical profession, then I'd openly balk at the possibility. And if I were given the same advice by a complete stranger in a dark alley late at night, then I'd immediately run away without asking any further questions. There's a certain qualification at work in this situation, after all -- why would I listen to someone here if they don't have a good degree of knowledge about the situation, the illness and the cure?

I can expand the argument here into any number of possibilities: Maybe the drug is untested or illegal. Maybe it has a set of ingredients that I know to be poisonous or detrimental to my health. Maybe I suspect that the qualified doctor in question has other ulterior motives for recommending the drug. Maybe I'm not sick at all, and some well-meaning (but misguided) relative just thinks I am.

Whatever the case, I want some logic in there. I want some means to qualify the recommended practice. I want some train of thought, some mental thread, some reference... anything that convinces me that this action is the best means to proceed with my current situation. Telling me that "it's always been done this way" isn't enough. Telling me that "everybody else is doing the same thing" isn't enough. And telling me that you can't provide your own justification for why I should be doing the dirty work sure as hell isn't enough, either.

I can see why I wouldn't want to walk under a ladder, yes. But I don't see why I should get scared whenever a black cat crosses my path. I can see why I shouldn't break any mirrors, yes. But I don't see why I should cower in bed whenever it happens to be Friday the 13th.

I'm just a man looking for justification here. I suppose that even a vague reason of some sort would help sometimes. But, well... I'm not about to listen to some random, unconnected piece of advice that looks like it has little to do with my current circumstances. I'd be more curious as to which completely different planet in which completely different solar system that came from. And then maybe I'd laugh.

I realize that my argument opens more than a few uncomfortable doors here -- it raises the question of religious faith, for one. It doesn't allow for such things as "hunches" or "personal instinct". It doesn't work very well with situations where you have less than thirty seconds to make a decision and where you can feel the pressure breathing down your neck.

But I think that it's a good rule. It sure as heck doesn't answer all the issues that are out there, but it does answer a sizeable chunk of them. I can't go around living my life on a bunch of rules that may be as outdated as scrolls and parchment; I've got to be realistic enough to pick out those that still make sense.

Otherwise, well... where would that leave me? I wouldn't want to go around as a disturbing reflection of times long past. I wouldn't want to ignore how the rest of the world changes around me. I wouldn't want to pass anything to my listeners that I don't believe is a fundamental truth, much less say anything that I only partially believe in.

There's usually got to be a logic somewhere. If not, then why would we have this capacity to think things over in the first place?


Ida said...

Awww, but logic distorts enchantment! :P

Oh, and you forgot to put in your "weird" list that you're a Hanson fan. I think it's pretty weird to find their lyrics in this blog. Ahehe.

Anton said...

Hanson fan?!!? you....hmm, somehow the logic of connecting you with the lyrics of mmmbop running through my head looks pretty bleak..actually it looks illogical..hehe

hows my blogging buddy doing.hope all is well.

Sean said...

Ida: Er... I'm not a Hanson fan. Honest. :)

I'll admit, though, that the prepubescent band only came out with one song I ever liked, which was the aforementioned "Weird". When I first heard that I had been tagged for the meme, that was the first thing that appeared in my head. So I Googled it up, took an excerpt, and posted it at the start of the entry. You can never have too many obscure references, I say.

Now, Michael Jackson... that's probably another story. :)

Anton: "Busy" would be the right word. I finally managed to land a job after seven months of unemployment, and I'm now in the thick of a probation period that's likely to wrap up in September. As a result, I haven't been writing as often as I'd like... much less reading as often as I'd like.

Hey, how's your family? And if I'm not mistaken, didn't you just come from an iBlog speaking engagement? :)